Importance of Patent Reform
America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for America’s private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.
In 2012, economists at the U.S. Department of Commerce studied industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively, and found that these “IP-intensive industries” account for over one-third of our nation’s GDP, more than 60 percent of our exports, and nearly 28 percent of jobs. Clearly, IP protection is a pillar of the United States economy.
Department of Commerce’s Commitment
The Commerce Department is playing a major role in ensuring that the United States remains the world’s strongest ideas-driven economy with a 21st century patent system. A core part of the Commerce Department’s mission is to help American businesses build things here and sell them everywhere around the globe. That is why U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker made innovation a main pillar of the “Open for Business Agenda” that she launched in November to continue to serve entrepreneurs and businesses that drive innovation.
Housed within the Department, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) promotes the economic vitality of American business by registering trademarks and examining applications for trademark registration.
Obama Administration’s Focus
The Obama Administration is also committed to strengthening the patent system to ensure it encourages innovation and invention, inspires and rewards creativity, drives investment, and spurs job creation. Last June, President Obama issued four executive actions for USPTO to build a smart intellectual property system for American businesses and to reduce the threat that patent assertion entities, commonly known as "patent trolls," often pose to cutting edge research and development.
The Commerce Department and USPTO delivered on the President’s request and announced today that they have successfully developed programs to help increase transparency of patent ownership information; enhance clarity of patents; empower small businesses to defend themselves against infringement claims by providing a more informative website; and expanded outreach and study efforts. All of these initiatives also align with the Depart of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda.”
At an event hosted by the White House, Secretary Pritzker also announced three new executive actions to encourage innovation and further strengthen the quality and accessibility of the patent system. These executive actions will harness the power of crowdsourcing by encouraging the innovation community to uncover and submit hard-to-find information, provide more robust technical training to improve the quality of patent examinations, and dedicate more staff to provide pro bono support for inventors and small businesses.
Secretary Pritzker co-led today’s event with Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council. Todd Park, Assistant to the President and U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Michelle Lee, Deputy Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office were also in attendance.
The White House also issued a fact sheet with more details on the executive actions.